Posts Tagged ‘sex’

As many of you know, I moved to Las Vegas this last fall.  Many friends have asked about life in Vegas, especially since I took a facebook hiatus last month that will probably continue into this month of December.  Here are some FAQs about Las Vegas and my life in Las Vegas so far.

Win any Money?

Yes, I win money every weekday by going to work and doing my job.  Furthermore, I win money by the occasional royalties checks.  By the way, check out educator.com

No, I meant at the Casinos silly!

Although the Casinos are enticing places, I’m only half Filipino.  I never developed the critical skills of learning Mah Jong, Poker, or how to play slots flush money down a toilet.  Bi-racial people are double the minority.

charles2013Is that you dressed up as Neo?

Yes.

Is that your boss dressed up as Morpheus?

No. That is the real Morpheus, on whom Laurence Fishburne’s legendary role was based.

Are you dating a stripper yet?

Yes.  Her name is Scarlet and she’s doing it get her way through nursing school.

Do you often joke about dating strippers?

Maybe.

What do you do for fun?

I went to a goth club, with my boots of baddassery, and danced in the tears of alienation to the dreary electronic vibe of Depeche Mode.  Other than that, I’m pretty much just writing, blogging, and playing games.

How many sociopaths did you fire this last month?

Exactly one.

Nanowrimo?

Totally.

Are you going to do something for your birthday?

Depends.  Are you coming to visit?

It’s all to common with a liberal arts education: my degree has about as much economic application as horseshoeing on a spaceship.  I’m reminded of this monthly, when I write those checks to loan companies.  There’s an extra reminder now.  The Alma Mater, Azusa Pacific, has hired students to call me up.  Yes, we all know why.

With some exaggeration, it is easy to feel like this when you get calls from a private educational institution.

"but we gave you 10k in scholarships!!"

“but we gave you 10k in scholarships!!”

Every single alum has at least one reason not to donate.  Additionally, there is a second.  Specifically, many alums are disgusted about the public, and dramatic issue regarding Adam (formally Heather) Ackley the transgender theology PhD who was dismissed (as graciously as possible?) from APU.  Whatever an outsider’s perception of this event, many from the APU community are not in agreement with this dismissal.  A number of students on campus have come out with the supportive slogan “we stand with Adam.”  They may speak for others; students and alum at APU are perhaps more free to speak their minds about human sexuality and Christianity than the people on the campus payroll.  While equally LBGT supportive alums appreciate this, we still know our alma mater has embarrassed itself by doing something we find morally objectionable.  All of this leaves us with a feeling of disgust, frustration, irritation.  No matter how sweet the other person sounds on those cold calls, these feelings aren’t going to go away.

I suggest that these feelings are reasons for alums to donate, rather than an additional reason to shun our alma mater’s inconvenient phone calls.

First, APU’s dismissal of Adam Ackley is horrible mark, but it does not invalidate everything else the school does well.  I regret that I will not be able to attend APU’s celebrate Christmas choral and musical performances this year.  A few weeks ago, several other alums and held a fantastic night of singing, dancing, and improvised comedy.  These nights could never have happened without our APU connection.  There are more altruistic causes too.  One of my former classmates is finishing  up Psy D program with the express purpose to help women pro bono.  Another friend has worked for a children’s non-profit for years.

Second, I think it behooves recent alum (and by that I mean anyone who is between 24-30ish) to consider why APU bit the bullet and dismissed a transgender individual.  It can be only in part because of “Christian Values.”  Whether we like it or not, the older generation has the deep pockets.  These people make up the donation base.  They’re also more conservative on issues of gender and sexuality.  Do other APU hold these views that strongly? I have a hard time believing that any the intellectuals at the campus actually wanted to see their colleague go.  Enough students on campus have shown support for Adam.  As blunt as it is, a transgender professor is probably more offensive to donors than to students or scholars.

I think this is where a humble, and slightly more than symbolic, contributions from recent alums come in.  The silver lining of entire Ackley fiasco is that the university (and anyone connected with it) has to confront this issue of gender identity and Christianity.  We all already know what the result will be in twenty years.  Transgender individuals will become more and more accepted.  Eventually too the broader Christian community will wonder why we thought that dismissing a transgender individual made any kind of sense.  Most of the younger than 30 Christians I know aren’t particularly bothered by LGBT acceptance.  Even those who disagree with things like gay marriage aren’t the type who are pro-actively opposing it.  Eventually, the views of the younger generation will supplant the views of the older.

Therefore, I’d like to put a little money to demonstrate this to University.  I want APU to know that I support my Alma Mater.  I want them to know that I believe in its mission and goals.  I want them to know that my time at APU is still a time I remember well.

Furthermore, I want them to know that I’m sympathetic to LGBT causes.  I believe that “Christian Values” do not demand exclusion on this basis.  Finally, at some point in the future, I want APU to make decisions on LGBT based on purely on conscience, not on donation ledgers.  The only way APU can be freed from the fear of offending a donation base, is if enough of their donation base is demonstrably supportive of LGBT issues.

It might be a drop in the bucket, but I like to show support with my wallet.

The fourth bomb on why young people leave the church we now discuss.  According to Barna headline it is summed up in this sentence: Young Christians’ church experiences related to sexuality are often simplistic, judgmental.  The article expands to the following.

One of the significant tensions for many young believers is how to live up to the church’s expectations of chastity and sexual purity in this culture, especially as the age of first marriage is now commonly delayed to the late twenties. Research indicates that most young Christians are as sexually active as their non-Christian peers, even though they are more conservative in their attitudes about sexuality.

Regular readers of this blog have seen the sexuality issue pop up several times.  For this post two things need to be parsed out: what is official view of the evangelical church, how is it simplistic (and harmful), and what ought we to do?

Simplistic testimonies: Out of Touch and Out of Date.

Evangelical theology is quite often folk theology.  This is not to say that it’s bad.  It is more a comment on how a message gets accepted and how it gets communicated.  You’ve seen it work if you have ever had someone “testify” to the goodness of God or their working in their life.  Evangelical theology is deeply rooted in the folk experiences of God’s winners.  That is, people who can tell us how great it is to live a holy life, all by the grace of God of course.

Exhibit A among “God’s Winners” is Mark Regnerus.  Several years ago, he argued for the case for young marriage.  In it he extolled the virtues of marrying young.  Naturally, he answered many of the objection such as economic insecurity, immaturity, and even a kind of romantic perfectionism.  He wisely admitted that it is unrealistic to expect people to wait.  Instead, he argues that our crisis with sexuality is really a misunderstanding of marriage.  Overall, he feels that inspiring young marriage (and helping people to get there) is the solution to our woes about sexuality.  Not surprisingly, Mark Regnerus married young.

Another issue, we can call it exhibit b for God’s winners, is he frequent testimonies and sharing on podcasts like boundless.org, such as this story about bachelor pastor who got married late in life.  In podcast 246, Steve DeWitt, talks about his lengthy time unmarried life up until age 44.  He shares his thoughts on loneliness, expectations on perhaps always being single, and a scatterings of relationships a long the way.  He remains one of God’s Winners because he remained pure.

Stories like this that help motivate the standard lines of the evangelical sexual ethic.  It can be summed in few sentences: virginity is how the unmarried stay holy.  Multiple partners will make used up.  Young men should not dishonor young women.  Young women should not dishonor themselves.  If you ‘burn with passion’ just get married young.  Marital sex is totally hot.  Look up these in any evangelical message board, any evangelical sermon, and you’ll see these memes repeated ad infintum.

Meanwhile, Tamar tempts Judah like its no big deal.

Meanwhile, Tamar tempts Judah like it’s no big deal.

Overly simplistic, harmful and marginalizing.

For the young Christians the party line creates familiar feeling.  It’s like a baby boomer telling you to “just get a job.” 

Why are these messages so completely out of touch?  Part of it is that the way church leaders dogmatically ignore bad consequences of the evangelical sexual ethic.  Feminist Jessica Valenti outlined some of the interesting lopsidedness of what she pejoratively calls “virginity fetishism.”  At purity balls, young women promise to keep their virginity intact.  Young men promise not to defile a young woman by ‘taking’  her virginity.  Does this not seem strange?  Is virginity only a quality that women have?  Why?  Such a strange emphasis on one gender is damaging.  I like to think that there is a bit more to being a ‘Godly woman’ than what doesn’t happen prior to marriage.  It is also seems to imply that women are not interested in or tempted by sex.  This is such an archaic, outdated notion that I face palm even typing it.

There are however more dramatic examples.  In one instance a kidnapped rape victim, Elizabeth Smart, endured sexual slavery at age fourteen.  She was rescued when her captors brought her out into public.  Why didn’t she just run away the first chance she got?  Elizabeth explained that rape victims struggle with a feeling of worthlessness and that this is made worse by conservative, abstinence only sex ed programs.

Some might say that this is an extreme example.  Indeed it is.  So consider the idea that virginity somehow helps single people prepare for a great marriage.  It is rare to find a Christian in their mid 20s who doesn’t know someone who wasn’t hurt by this myth.  It’s ugly result is a quick divorce to get out of a premature marriage.  One candid story, entitled “My Virignity Mistake” the author tells a story of an expensive marriage, a disappointing sex life, and a subsequent divorce.

She ends with a hopeful note:

Soon after our divorce, he got remarried to someone who suits him better than I ever could have. And years later, I can confirm that I am not that woman who has no interest in sex. I don’t quilt. I haven’t compiled a grocery list in bed in years, and I now know that sex can be amazing … with a bartender who only knows your first name, a pilot you meet on vacation in Costa Rica and yes, with the right guy – sex in a marriage can be beautiful. The key is to figure that out before you find yourself walking down an aisle in a dress that costs more than the family car (my mother has since reminded me). It isn’t the most important thing when it comes to love. But for me, I learned that sex is important enough not to wait. -Salon

As you can see by this quote, this description of sex doesn’t fit with the idea that multiple partners make a person feel used up like a piece of tape that looses its adhesive power.

Shut up and Listen

Many people will see the negative results here -a shamed rape victim, a young divorce, and a lopsided sexual dogma- and insist that these are the results of sin not the morality about sex.  Honestly, can such an attitude really reflect a thorough understanding of how “God’s losers” are experiencing sex?  Remember, part of the problem is that Evangelical sexual ethic is folk theology that’s not just proclaimed but created by the testimonies of folks like a 44 year old bachelor pastor.  I can see no justification to ignore or reinterpret stories of people who failed to get to meet the cut.  These problems are not the result of sin.  These problems are the result of an archaic, out-dated, lopsided, and completely out of touch sexual ideal.

The 80% of young Christians who are having sex anyway likely agree with this point.  If we keep beating the drum about virginity, abstinence, and the virtues of young marriage we expect more young people to leave out of sheer alienation.  If we trudge along with idealistic views of sexual purity, relationships, and dating we will lose the attention of young people who already know it isn’t working.  I can’t emphasize enough that we need to re-evaluate our sexual ethic in light of our contemporary context, rather than appealing to an imagined past or somewhat selective examination of scripture.

Let’s start by honoring young women.  You read that correctly.  The current sexual ethic is not not really helping any woman who feels used up after sex, or is feels guilty about wanting sex.  It bothers me that there are Christians out there who think that dating or marrying a non-virgin is either a taboo or a consolation prize.  We need to erase the virginal purity idea from our minds.  A women’s intrinsic worth as romantic partner no more depends on her not having had sex than a man’s not having viewed pornography.  By way of example, consider this.  Years ago, a friend once asked if she would be ‘used goods’ if she tried to date post-divorce.  I told her that any guy who would think that of her isn’t worth dating in the first place.  Why?  Most likely because he is not totally aware of his own failings when it comes to his sexuality.

More generally, we need to have a more candid two-sided dialogue, when it comes to sex.  You will notice that I did not talk about the famous passage in Corinthians.  Equally, I did not reference lesser known references to the unexpected sexuality of the old testament.  This because I find those conversations hard to start.  The impression I get from most Christian romance media and message-board discussions is that Evangelical zeitgeist is still mired in a very black and white, very dogmatic, way of thinking on this matter.  This is especially true for the organizations like boundless who speak just a bit too authoritatively about purity and romance.  We need to understand what the Bible actually says about sex, and I do mean all of the Bible, not just the verses that reinforce the folk theologies.

Fortunately, the attitude is changing.  Articles such as the ones of shared in this blog, this nice one at Internet Monk, and this wonderful documentary give me some confidence that other people’s stories will be heard.  I hope also that most of the young Christians in what Relevant calls the “secret sexual revolution” will have the confidence to be less secret about it.

Make no mistake: it’s not going to be enough to revise or re-articlate the old ethic about sex.  The current sexual ethic needs to be replaced.  If we expect to keep the coming generations, we need to get sexual ethic that makes sense.  We need to get one that works.  This will begin only when more and more young people become honest and candid with themselves.

God’s losers need to be heard.

The kickstarter Documentary <a href=http://givemesexjesus.com/?>Jesus, don’t let me die before I’ve had sex</a> is now fully funded with a day to spare.

Estimated release is mid 2013.  I’m looking forward to it.  Hurrah.

Anyway, I suppose it is worth adding a little bit of personal reflection on this.

I did not date in high school nor to much or my early twenties.  There were a lot of reasons for this, but it wasn’t for lack of opportunity.  It wasn’t even for lack of attention or interest.  It was largely because I didn’t know how.  I did not even know that it was a skill to be learned.

Unfortunately what filled the empty space in my mind was not practical, secular -yes secular– wisdom but fundamentalist folk teaching that was taught to by an amalgamation of church camps and bible bookstore best sellers.  All of it kept the party line of abstinence, seeking God first, praying for your future spouse, and not wasting time dating but courting -whatever the fuck that is.  I feel overall that the teaching was relationships were to be delayed until God brought a spouse to you and that romance was to be disconnected of sexuality.

The church “just guy times”-at least when it came to sexuality and relationships- were pretty much condemnation fests.  There was a lot of emphasis placed on not lusting with your eyes, even though physical attraction was okay.  So basically we were allowed to be physically, but not sexually attracted, to anyone.  Additionally, we were taught, that way-ward women would (as my friend cleverly put it once) “steal our souls with their vaginas.”  Risk and vulnerability were also things to avoid.  A friend of mine once told me that he didn’t want to give his future wife “a scarred up heart.”  Never mind that God still loves a scarred up heart.  Also that which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

Most of the guys who were teaching us to repent of our sexuality were married and with kids.  I.e. they were “successful.” so most of us clueless 15-18 year old guys believed them.  Sadly, those moral paragons turned out to have feet of clay.  How else can you describe it though when what is alleged to be “biblical teaching” is little more than a social convention? It is  only “right” because of how often it is repeated and taught.  In fact, I’m fairly well read Christian, but I had to read something written by a pyscho-balls atheist woman before coming across a very thoughtful affirmation of male sexuality.

The biggest irony of all this is that most of that dogma actually caused me to sin.  Not that I blame it, per se, but the dogma certainly did not help me with handling relationships very well.  How?  Well getting into a relationship is a little bit like water flowing down a hill.  The evangelical dogma is like a overly complicated system of dams, buckets, and pipes to ensure that the water flows down the hill exactly as its supposed too.  Also, if you’re taught that a “scarred up heart” will fuck-up your relationship with your divinely appointed future spouse, what does that say about every casual date?  In Azusa Pacific’s student newspaper, year’s ago, there was an article written by a girl encouraging (borderline begging?) guys to be more open to casual dating.  On behalf of all guys who didn’t know better, I apologize.

I repented of that behavior in the most literal sense -changing of the mind- long ago.  Things have been a lot better over the last several years.  Specifics will of course, not be listed here.  I am not concerned about the evangelical dogmas these days, although they still show up in blogs like this one.  Now,  some might say, “oh, but if you don’t date the Christian way you’ll never have a nice upstanding Christian girl to marry and put babies into.”  The subtext there is that “Christian” actually means “Evangelical.”  To those nay-sayers I reply that it’s a good thing that I feel comfortable with high-church Protestants, Catholics, and outright pagans.

Thanks for reading.

Sometimes, you have to smash a few Icons and overturn a few tables.

Bear with this technical introduction a moment. In undergraduate, we were taught to think about our opinions, beliefs, and practices according this list, commonly called the Wesleyan quadrilateral. This is common among many Evangelical institutions:

  • 1. Scripture
  • 2. Tradition
  • 3. Reason
  • 4. Experience

It is number four that is important here.

Experience can be narrow or broad. In the broader sense, experience means culture. If you think of it narrowly, think of it as a pastoral principle: diagnose before you prescribe. A pastor or church leader may be mentoring a new member. Appropriately, that leader first asks the new member about their relationship with God, encourages them to be open about their spiritual struggles, shares in the triumphs and so on. In addiction recovery, for instance, a person who is taking the twelve steps also explores their family history. How they play out those twelve steps will depend on their own experiences.

Experience, however, is also used to prescribe. Here’s how: A popular, and effective, method of teaching and preaching is telling stories. If you listen to any popular Evangelical preacher, you can probably think of dozens of stories they tell. I remember a church leader sharing about a time he had to ask forgiveness for how he treated his sister in law. Greg Boyd, in God of the Possible, shared a story about a divorced woman. Mosaic Church, in LA, publishes a magazine dedicated to sharing stories about what God does in their individual lives. Old-fashioned evangelicalism still encourages people to tell their personal testimonies about what God has done in their lives.

There’s nothing wrong with stories or testimonies. In fact, they’re good teaching tools. They’re so effective that the officially endorsed stories -that is, the ones that Evangelicalism approves of and repeats via blogs, sermons etc.- are sometimes more important or just as important as the Bible.

No where are the official stories more important than when it comes to sex. The official stories go something like this (this is a summary from a meagchurch podcast): Boy is virgin. Girl is not. Girl feels “damaged” and is hesitant to marry boy. Boy says he’s ready to be “damaged.” They have sex. Girl feels used, and they break up. Here is another official story (summarized from a chapel speaker): Football was my high school idol. Sex was my college idol. I had really bad, empty sex. It took me years to recover. Save yourselves for marriage. Finally, there are the inspiring stories: We met in college. When we was 21 and I was 19 we got married. The sex was great. Get married young. It’s worth the struggle. Think about all the testimonies about sex that you have heard from pulpits, speakers, and popular Evangelical media. What do they sound like most of the time?

Now, let’s turn to what don’t hear. Here are the unofficial testimonies of romance, sexuality, and marriage that are not given their due attention:

  • Our relationship began with a romp in bed. He wasn’t my first, I wasn’t his. It’s amazing, though, that we found each other when we did! We’ve been married six years now.
  • I got married when I was 21. It was the worst mistake of my life. Neither of us was emotionally or financially prepared, and we divorced. I am glad that we didn’t make babies, but I know many people who did.
  • Years of religious sexual repression caused me to fear sex. When I got married, I was unable to reach orgasm or even enjoy it. This damaged the spiritual, emotional, and sexual connection with my husband.
  • I am not able to interact romantically with the opposite sex because I cannot tell what is physical attraction and what is lust.
  • The “duck tape parable” made me afraid to be vulnerable with anyone. Then I entered into a sexual relationship. Somehow, that gave me confidence.
  • My family refused to attend my wedding because I married a divorced woman. This hurt both of us deeply.
  • I am gay, and in a happy monogamous relationship.
  • Lot’s of Christian couples wait until marriage before first penetration. They also do everything else before marriage.

Can you imagine these spoken from a pulpit or published by a focus-on-the family webzine? Some of the stories here will actually get you removed from a church, or at least marginalized while you attend. That’s because these testimonies violate the official moral paradigm of Evangelicalism. It’s a kind of spiritual censorship, which makes the goal of “authenticity” impossible. Does that seem right to you?

Despite the dogmatics that come down from Colorado Springs, the spot-light pulpits, and the megachurches, most young evangelicals aren’t buying the official stories or at least aren’t following its subsequent moral prescription. This means that the value-makers and leaders of Evangelicalism are out of touch with reality. If any of us presume to use the “Wesleyan Quadrilateral” we have to be candid about what the collective experience is.

It’s for these two reasons that I will donate to this cause:

Jesus, don’t let me die before I’ve had sex.

I hope that you will too because their deadline is less than two weeks away. The website is here, at kickstarter.com and they accept pledges from one dollar to a thousand. No one knows what the result of this documentary will be when it is completed, but I think it will do justice to many people who felt the power of religious censor. At the same time, it will help any minister or pastor to take hard look at their congregations, espeically their college ministries.

And it wouldn’t hurt to promote the cause via twitter, reddit, Facebook, or similar means. That’s what the buttons below are for.

I hope though, that we can all be kind when we pick up the hammers and shatter the stained glass.

I feel that there are three holy days on the Evangelical calendar: Christmas, Evangelism Sunday, and the Super Bowl.  The third is coming up this Sunday.

This year, I won’t participate in any of sacred rituals of the Superbowl.  This means I won’t be gathering around a TV with a bowl fulls of snacks, I won’t be voting for the plethora of Doritos/Pepsi commercials, and I certainly will not be procuring the services of a teenage prostitute.

Real men raise them.

By now, most people are probably aware the Super Bowl is one of the biggest hubs of sex traffic in the United States.  This should probably concern Christians because -despite various other doctrinal differences- we all believe that forced prostitution is a horrible thing.

The above is an illustration of understatement.

It’s good to know that many Churches and blogs are speaking up against this.  Right now, many Christians are helping to put a stop to it.  Churches, like Mars Hill, also speak out against it.  I have attended churches were the super bowl was an event for the church, but those churches did not speak aboutthe trafficking.  I am little chagrined about that, but I could have missed a Sunday.

Obviously Christians aren’t going to be tacit about this, but we can’t all be at the Super Bowl either.  So if you can’t volunteer at the Superbowl, what can you do to stop the trafficking?  It’s something I’ve been thinking about.

For me, I am personally boycotting the Super Bowl this year.  I don’t want the event to get any of my attention or any of cash if it also attracts that much sex trafficking.  Is this unfair to the great American Sport?  Maybe it is, but last year the Super Bowl committee was pretty silent on this problem.  Should I buy their product if I don’t have to?  I specifically walked out of the foreigner bar in Korea last year because they were hosting the Super Bowl.  I did that despite the fun I otherwise might have had that night.

Of course, I freely admit that I am not exactly a grid-iron gremlin.  I don’t even know who is playing this year.  Yet, I understand how passionate people are for this game and the sense of camaraderie it brings.  Besides, who isn’t up for an excuse to barbeque, right?

So for those who will celebrate the Super Bowl, please consider this: count every penny you spend on the Super Bowl this year.  This means the snacks, the meat, the beer/soda, and even the gas you use to drive.  Figure out what that dollar amount is and multiply it by two.  Then donate that dollar amount to International Justice Mission an organization that fights human trafficking.  You’ll spend money either way, but this way you’ll spend money to stop the injustice as well.  If a 2:1 ratio is too high for sex trafficking, trying matching every dollar you spend on fun with a donation.  If you’re like me, and already ignoring the Super Bowl, then post one of the links in this blog somewhere for a honest, descent, football fan to see.

This way, the a giant hub of sex trafficking could turn into a giant sting operation against sex trafficking.  I’d love to read blogs on Monday about how many arrests were made and victims freed.

Go celebrate the Super Bowl, and help clean up the mess in its shadow.